Ezra 6 – Oh What Joy! God is in Control
King Darius was surprisingly intentional in finding the decree from King Cyrus to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. The Jews had mentioned it would be found in Babylon, but it was found in the, “Fortress of Echatana in the province of Media.” (Ezra 6:2)
He could have called off the search and made his own decree. But the Lord was clearly in control and gave him the desire to seek this issue out.
We can find such confidence in the Lord through the letter that King Darius wrote in reply. This is clearly the Lord’s leading in Darius. He was a pagan king who at the time had control over a good portion of the world. The Jews were his slaves. He could have said whatever he wanted to. But the Lord is sovereign over all and His power and authority was over Darius’ response.
“Therefore, you must stay away from that place, Tattenai governor of the region west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and your colleagues, the officials of the region. Leave the construction of the house of God alone. Let the governor and elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its original site.” Ezra 6:6-7
He told all of his governing officials of the land to leave the Jews alone. This is incredible! He was in essence saying, “Don’t bother my slaves, the lowest ranking people under my authority right now. They are special and I will allow them to do this great work. Back off!”
What king does that?!? Oh, and to top the matter off, continue reading Darius’ letter:
“I hereby issue a decree concerning what you must do, so that the elders of the Jews can rebuild the house of God:
The cost is to be paid in full to these men out of the royal revenues from the taxes of the region west of the Euphrates River, so that the work will not stop. Whatever is needed – young bulls, rams, and lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, or wheat, salt, wine, and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem – let it be given to them every day without fail, so that they can offer sacrifices of pleasing aroma to the God of heaven and pray for the life of the king and his sons.” Ezra 6:8-10
He was identified as the “God of Heaven” by Darius twice, along with “the God was caused His name to dwell there.” Darius knew that this was a powerful deity. He just didn’t realize how much!
King Darius was handing the Jews the taxes taken from the people living in Israel, along with an abundance of animals and goods to perform their sacrifices to the Lord! He made sure that the work would not stop. The Lord’s house would be rebuilt and none of the officials who had caused the Jews grief would be able to do anything about it.
“Then Tattenai governor of the region west of the Euphrates River, Shethar-bozenai, and their colleagues diligently carried out what King Darius had decreed. So the Jewish elders continued successfully with the building under the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah son of Iddo. They finished the building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius, and King Artaxerxes of Persia. This house was completed on the third day of the month of Adar in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.” Ezra 6:13-15
The LORD made the plan, directed the kings, protected His people, and saw His order fulfilled. Nothing was able to stop His work from being completed – nothing!
The rest of the chapter shared of the sacrifices the Israelites made to the Lord at the completed temple as well as observing the Passover feast and festival together.
They sacrificed for every tribe of Israel, even though only three were represented there (Judah, Benjamin, and Levi). They recognized the importance of the entire family of Israel in God’s sight, just like every Christian is a part of God’s family. We need to “intercede for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18), praying always, encouraging one another, and showing love to each other at all times.
The Jews saw the protection and provision they were receiving as from the Lord and rejoiced! They celebrated the sacrifices and festivals with joy, “Because the Lord had made them joyful, having changed the Assyrian king’s attitude toward them, so that he supported them in the work on the house of the God of Israel.” Ezra 6:22
What joy we can take from this chapter, trusting the Lord’s authority over our lives, knowing that He will protect us and the work He has set out for us to do. Thank You Lord!